Norman MacCaig image
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Born in November 14, 1910 / Died in January 23, 1996 / United Kingdom / English

Quotes by Norman MacCaig

And the second question, can poetry be taught? I didn't think so.
I never think about poetry except when I'm writing it. I mean my poetry.
I said I have no powers of invention. Well, I also have no powers of mimicry.
It's like breathing in and out to me. It's like having a conversation with someone who isn't there. Because it has to be addressed to somebody - not a particular person, or very rarely.
I'm very gregarious, but I love being in the hills on my own.
But I hang on to books. I love them. I even think they're very nice decor in a room - far better than paintings... That's not quite true!
I don't think of myself all the time.
All those authors there, most of whom of course I've never met. That's the poetry side, that's the prose side, that's the fishing and miscellaneous behind me. You get an affection for books that you've enjoyed.
I only keep books that I like very much. Otherwise I'd throw them out.
I find it's impossible for me to read Proust.
There are some friends you don't meet for twenty years and when you meet them again it's as if no twenty years has happened - you're lucky when that happens. I feel the same about books.
In fact a lot of them I think are absolute baloney. Those Charles Olsens and people like that. At first I was interested in seeing what they were up to, what they were doing, why they were doing it. They never moved me in the way that one is moved by true poetry.
I used to fish the Border rivers, but nowadays you have to queue up for a shot and I can't stand that.
And it's impossible for me to read Henry James.
But you'd have a job to find many of my poems which would seem to be very influenced by a particular person.
I used to have a great love for Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, the big boys of the last century.
However, I learned something. I thought that if the young person, the student, has poetry in him or her, to offer them help is like offering a propeller to a bird.
All I write about is what's happened to me and to people I know, and the better I know them, the more likely they are to be written about.
People haven't got the interest in long long works these days. A lack of interest which I share.
And in a way, that's been a help to me, because I take great passions for a particular poet - sometimes it lasts for many years, sometimes only for a while. This happens to everybody.
When I talk of hearing a poet's voice speaking, I always think of it as in the presence of the man.
And if they haven't got poetry in them, there's nothing you can do that will produce it.
Well, I'm a light traveller. I chuck things away.
When I go fishing I like to know that there's nobody within five miles of me.
Well, I love fishing. I wouldn't kill a fly myself but I've no hesitation in killing a fish. A lot of men are like that. No bother. Out you come. Thump. And that's not the only reason.